Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Nice Crook

Here it goes once again. Some of my family members and relatives say that I should post more often but I'm just going to give the warning now that if I did post more often they would be shorter than normal but even more boring if possible.

The last week and a half has been pretty interesting. We've gotten to do some stuff out of the ordinary which always adds some spice to life and experiences to remember:) Last Tuesday Neil and I went with the hospital's truck into Kigoma to do some shopping to furnish our kitchen with the necessary tools and also pick up some food items that we can't get in the local village market. We ended up leaving late which is the norm that I've gotten used to, and didn't get back until around seven in the evening. While in town we tried to check out the train station for schedules and rates. At Christmas time we're going down to Mozambique to spend a few weeks with my family. The initial and final legs of that journey are going to involve us taking a two nights and one day train ride to Dar es Salaam. We weren't able to get our tickets but we did find out that we'll probably be able to get our own sleeper room for the trip and not have to worry about someone swiping our stuff while we're asleep.

The rest of the week continued normally without any surprises. Sabbath kept up the new trend of weekend rain. Both Saturday and Sunday contained some pretty cool storms. On Sunday we had our laundry out on the line and then Neil noticed that it was looking kind of dark outside. We went out to get the laundry and could see a wall of black coming towards us. It was moving pretty fast and while we were watching the distant hills disappeared from view. As I was hurrying to get my clothes down I felt the first drops and right after I had gone inside it started to rain in a serious way. Not the happy-go-lucky rain of a spring morning, no, more like the rain where God has a bunch of fire hoses aimed down at us. Rain is good though because it means our electricity will stay on more consistently.

Monday found us riding into town again but this time to the smaller town of Kasulu, about an hour away. We had sent our passports and papers in the previous week to get our residence permits but they wanted proof that we were students like our papers said. We don't have any proof but went along to try and show him that we're just poor students. Interestingly enough the student issue never surfaced when we reached the office of the immigration guy. There is a Canadian couple here to supervise all the building projects going on currently and they were here last year to build the Heri hospital church. They were in with us to get their permits as well. While we signed the last couple of papers the immigration guy, who I'm going to call Hubert, told us that he needed to get some money from us to pay for a person to take all our stuff to Dar and get the permits processed. This was so we wouldn't have to go ourselves. The Petermans (Canadian couple) had given him quite a bit of money towards getting someone to take our stuff to Dar, but Hubert stated that it wasn't enough. I am not the most patient of people and I enjoy arguing quite a bit. Character flaws, I know. I started to get a little upset because we hadn't heard that we were going to have to pay even extra above the cost of the residence permit. After he stated that the amount given him wasn't enough I asked him what would be a sufficient amount to pay for someone to take our documents. Hubert wouldn't answer me. He just kept smiling and telling us that we needed to give him more money. Now I know that Africa thrives on corruption and lining one's own bank account as often as possible but I wasn't happy about Hubert trying to get extra money after what he had been given was already sufficient to get someone to Dar and have the stay there for a week or so. What ended up happening was the hospital guys there with us talked to Hubert and arranged something so that they would pay some for Neil and I and we wouldn't have to pay any more. After leaving and talking about the exchange while we drove I commented on how seeing as how our options always seem to involve dealing with a crooked person at least we got to deal with a nice crook and not a surly one:)

The only other notable news that I can think of is that I've baked bread a couple of times now (the third try is in the oven now). The first couple of loaves were alright but nothing special. The second batch turned out pretty nice except we haven't been able to get whole wheat flour yet so all the bread is big, fluffy, and white just like I'll be when I get older:) We'll see how this third batch turns out.

Well I hope everyone out there in internet land is having a splendid October. I've put my address here at the top of the page just in case you have time to sit down and write one of those old fashioned things....I think it's called a letter...yeah that's it. Peace be upon you and happy early Hanukkah to anyone who is of the Jewish persuasion!


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Surfacing Once Again


I’ve sat here for a couple of minutes with only that on my screen, trying to decide where to begin in the narration of my recent experiences. It feels like we’ve been here quite a while already even though it’s only been two weeks. Those two weeks though, have been anything but ordinary in comparison to my normal existence.
I’m writing this in my room and then will go down to the offices tomorrow to get on the internet and post it. Because of that I can’t read what I last wrote on my blog. I believe we had just started to settle in and may have seen a few procedures in the hospital at that point? Well as of now (10/7/08) we’ve gotten to do/observe quite a bit in the hospital. Last week the medical director was gone to Dar es Salaam to meet with a Canadian couple who was coming to take charge of some construction projects here at Heri. Because he and the Canadian contractor weren’t here yet Neil and I kept somewhat busy organizing some storerooms and then helping the nurses with their duties in the operating theatre (which is an area that has a main operating room, another room for minor procedures and then an area to wash and sterilize instruments). We’ve become experts at manufacturing small gauze pads from a large roll and then rapping them and sterilizing them to be used for surgeries. The time there went pretty slowly because not much went on each day but it is a fun place to spend our time because the people who work there are really nice and funny in their own multi-cultural way. For example we were in watching a circumcision procedure on an 82 yr. old gentleman when the doctor and the nurses started a humorous conversation in English which the man didn’t understand. So everyone’s talking and laughing for a good 15 minutes and then the guy asks if they’ve even started yet (great indication that the local anesthetic worked:). Ok, so maybe a situation is more humorous at the time then described later by someone whose sense of humor is slightly off balance. sorry….

We got to watch a really cool arm surgery and the placing of a pin in the kid’s arm. I have to admit that I don’t have a stomach of iron or titanium or any strong metal. The first few procedures that we saw made me pretty nauseous but that’s been getting a lot better as I’ve watched more. This coming Sunday we’re going to get to watch the doctor remove a bunch of goiters off a lady that have been growing since 1984. Some of these goiters that she’s going to “give birth to” are older than I am…not that that’s saying much. Oh and yesterday we were in the hospital and got to help pop a kid’s elbow back into place. They knocked him out and then we all grabbed him and were pulling in different directions until the doctor felt the bones move back into place, which also came with an audible pop.

The contractor has been here a few days now and we’ve been told that we’ll be helping him supervise the construction projects and still get to help out in the hospital and watch surgeries. I also found out that they believe I’m capable of writing a grant proposal for ADRA Canada and the Canadian government. We’ll see how Neil and I fair on that project:) Back to the construction side. There are two sites and we’ll be in charge of supervising the work done on a couple of small houses at one site while the contractor takes care of the other site. We weren’t sure what exactly we were going to be doing with the construction but it appears that we’re just supposed to hang around like guardian angels and make sure that everyone keeps working and something is actually accomplished by the end of the day. I’ve never managed a construction crew before but it can’t be that bad, right? I mean the guys and I don’t even speak the same language so communicating what needs to be done should be a piece of cake…or something.
Today they were cleaning up the brush around the houses and found a bee hive that needed to be removed. It was underground so one of the guys went right at it. Digging up the hive with bees flying all around him. He’d yelp every now and then but kept going until you could see all the combs inside. Then he just reached in and started pulling them out with bees still on some. After getting all the combs out they got some brush burning in front of the hole to smoke the bees, and we all got to enjoy some honey straight from the hive. It was the best honey I’ve ever had. Really rich and not as thick as the stuff in the store.

Well I congratulate all of you who have made it this far down the page! I would apologize for the length but…I’m not going to because it just takes the place of me posting more often. I really appreciate all of the comments and emails that I’ve gotten from some of you..hint hint:) I hope everyone is having a marvelous week. I’ve just thought of more I could write but I’ll spare you the pain. You’re welcome.

Farewell to all and to all a good night… Justin